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Seneca Valley carves out 3-1 girls volleyball win at Butler

Finding A Groove
Seneca Valley players celebrate after gaining a point against Butler during a 3-1 girls volleyball section win at Butler Senior High School Tuesday night. Steven Dalton/Special to the Eagle

BUTLER TWP — Returning from a tournament in Maryland where they went perfect in 10 matches, Seneca Valley entered Butler’s gym Tuesday night looking to keep the ball rolling while opening WPIAL Section 1-4A girls volleyball play.

The Golden Tornado provided resistance, but bowed to the Raiders in four sets — the scores being 25-14, 25-21, 25-18, and 27-25.

Seneca Valley (4-0) never trailed in the first set, before fumbling away the second late. Before a hitting error handed Butler (4-1) a 20-19 edge in the latter game, the Raiders were either tied or had the upper hand for 71 of the first 77 serves.

“Then we’re playing point for point,” Seneca Valley coach Brett Poirer said. “They just turned it up. I tell these guys all the time, ‘When you’re in Butler’s house, they’re just different.’ When you play somebody at home, you’ve got to expect them to be better than they are on the road.

“They tested us really good.”

The hosts claimed the second set with a late surge, then the teams were deadlocked through the first dozen points of the third. Kills by senior Bria Stepp and junior Elizabeth Petelin helped the Raiders on a four-point run after that, and the Golden Tornado wouldn’t pull within better than three the rest of that game.

“Up and down,” Poirer said. “We really played up and down tonight. Butler’s got a good team. ... They’re young, I think, but they definitely pushed us to the brink. We squeezed one out at the end.”

The Golden Tornado possessed a 20-16 advantage in the fourth game, but Seneca Valley pulled even at 22. The Raiders’ Zoe Schultz and Butler’s Audrey Lehman then traded tip-over kills. Stepp put the visitors up, 24-23, before Sarah Szebalskie gave the Golden Tornado a one-point lead with consecutive kills.

Ollivia Congdon and Kennedy Peffer followed up a Seneca Valley timeout with points for their team, and Butler couldn’t return a serve to end matters.

“I thought it was a great match,” Golden Tornado coach Meghan Lucas said. “I am very proud of my team, the way they battled. They fell short that first game, but they didn’t give up.

“We threw all of our weapons, everything that we could try. My kids, they’re learning, and their game is getting better. I’m pleasantly pleased with how they did there.”

Especially being that clashes with North Hills, Pine-Richland, and North Allegheny figure to be just as competitive.

“Our section is loaded, and every night is going to be like that,” Lucas said. “So, we have to be deep and we have to be ready to throw kids out there. We had some kids sick, we had some kids that are nursing injuries, but we have a very deep bench. I feel very confident in taking anybody off that bench to go out there and fill in a spot.

“The five teams in our section are all in the Top 10 (in the WPIAL).”

Lehman finished with a team-high 17 kills and a service ace for Butler. Brynn Cornibe and Szebalskie added nine kills apiece and Molly Wogan 37 assists.

For the Raiders, Peffer Katie Craig both had nine kills.

The Golden Tornado will next be in action against Pine-Richland at home on Thursday. Seneca Valley will visit Shaler on the road the same night.

Seneca Valley's Ollivia Congdon (8) spikes as Butler's Brynn Cornibe (20) attempts to defend at Butler Senior High School. The Raiders won the match in four games. Steven Dalton/Special to the Eagle

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